Smiles were in abundance when city officials and waterfront property owners joined together to announce that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) has agreed to abandon restrictions that would have been devastaing to the future of the Portland waterfront. The news came this morning at a press conference on Union Wharf, owned by the family of Charlie Poole.
The restrictions would not have allowed any new building on the waterfront and buildings damaged more than 50% would not have been allowed to rebuild. Insurance rates also would have escalated for property owners. “It would have been very unfortunate had FEMA placed these restrictions on top of us,” said Poole.
By way of background, in May of 2006 FEMA began gathering information to issue new flood maps around the country that would reflect where high flood risk zones are located. Last year interested parties met with FEMA officials. “We felt our goose was cooked when we left the meeting,” said Poole. “Property owners owe their thanks to city employees for their tenacious work on this.”
According to Penny St. Louis Littell, Portland’s Director of Planning and Urban Development, this review of the flood areas was probably predicated on the destruction caused by hurricane Katrina. The last time FEMA conducted a similar review was back in 1986.